Orange County reported 227 new cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths Saturday, bringing the county’s totals to 51,873 cases and 1,127 fatalities.
Hospitalizations in the county inched up from 201 Friday to 202, with the number of intensive care unit patients rising from 64 to 65, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
None of the four fatalities reported Saturday was a resident of a skilled-nursing or assisted-living facility. Since the pandemic began, 423 skilled-nursing facility residents and 77 assisted-living facility residents have succumbed to the coronavirus.
The OCHCA reported that 786,298 COVID-19 tests have been conducted, including 8,844 reported Saturday. There have been 46,598 documented recoveries.
The county’s daily case count per 100,000 people fell from 5.2 last week to 4.7, and the seven-day rate of residents testing positive for the coronavirus dropped from 4.2% last week to 3.9%.
To move up from the second-most restrictive red tier to the orange tier in the state’s four-tier monitoring system, the county must have a daily new case rate per 100,000 of 1 to 3.9 and a positivity rate of 2 to 4.9%.
Orange County was upgraded from the most restrictive purple tier to the red tier last week. The move allowed for churches, theaters and other businesses to resume indoor operations, but with strict limits on capacity and other health measures in place.
Theaters, restaurants and churches are restricted to 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is less. Museums, zoos and aquariums also were allowed to reopen indoor activities at 25% capacity. Shopping centers were given the green light to expand from 25% capacity to half-capacity under the red tier, while gyms were allowed to reopen at 10% capacity.
All schools will be allowed to reopen for in-class instruction by Tuesday, OCHCA Director Dr. Clayton Chau said. So far, the county has approved 140 elementary schools for reopening through the state’s waiver process, he said.
The return to in-person instruction will happen in phases, Chau told reporters Thursday. Some school districts will remain on distance learning, and some will stagger reopenings, he said.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, all districts started the school year with students learning completely online.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved a plan to set up drive-thru flu vaccine clinics in each of the county’s five districts to help stave off a potential “twindemic” of the flu and COVID-19 this fall, along with a plan to expand testing to reach residents who are of Asian-Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern and North African heritage.
“The Latino community remains the highest hot spot in the county, but the next highest is the API community as well as Middle Eastern and North African,” Supervisor Andrew Do said. “This shows the board is very proactive in trying to address potential hot spots.”
Officials in Orange County cities that are home to large venues such as theme parks appealed to the state this week for guidance on reopenings so they can better prepare. The state shutdown order of March 14 affected Disneyland, the Anaheim Convention Center, the Honda Center and Angel Stadium in Anaheim and Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that the state plans to make announcements “soon” relating to reopening guidelines for theme parks.